Introduction: Make a Custom Wooden Baking Dish

Picture of Make a Custom Wooden Baking Dish
Cute little cardboard mini loaf pans and fancy cupcake liners are super trendy in specialty stores, but I wanted something a little fancier for gift giving. I picked up some food safe glue and some untreated wood veneer and made exactly what I had in mind. After a couple of prototypes I have a working method ready to go, with plenty of time to make a bunch before the holidays!

This video is a quick overview of the process:

Step 1: Materials and Equipment

Picture of Materials and Equipment

Materials
- Wood Veneer - Make sure you're getting an untreated wood that is NOT paper backed. Stick with common types of wood - maple, walnut, cherry, etc. It's even better if it's a tree that grows something you eat (like the ones I just listed.) Some exotic wood species have naturally occurring chemicals that you don't really want to consume.
- Wood Glue - Make absolutely sure that the label says it is approved for food contact (indirect food contact is fine.)
- Waxed Paper - It's handy in the gluing process to prevent things sticking where they don't belong.
- Parchment Paper - Use this when you actually bake something in your dish - the finished product isn't water (or batter) tight and you may not want food touching it directly anyway.

Equipment
- Scissors and/or a Utility Knife - Cut the wood veneer with this. Make sure you have lots of blades if you're using a utility knife.
- Clamps - Find all the small clamps you own before you start.
- Masking Tape - Keep everything in place.
- Clean Brushes - You'll need a brush for water and a brush for glue.
- Small Container - You'll need some water handy for the bending part of the process. Any clean little jar will get this done.

Step 2: Pattern

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I've attached my pattern so you can use it, or you can make your own for your own specific baking needs.

The most important thing is the grain direction - if the grain runs parallel to the fold line the wood will break. It needs to run perpendicular to the fold for strength. If grain direction didn't matter you could make these with much fewer pieces. I've marked the grain direction on the pattern pieces, make sure to align everything properly.

Step 3: Cut the Veneer

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Trace you pattern onto your veneer. A pencil is fine for this.

Cut out the pieces. I prefer to use scissors, but some tight corners require intervention with a utility knife. Cut everything as accurately as you possibly can. Use a few light cuts with the knife instead of trying to cut through on one try. If you veneer is cracking and breaking a lot stick some masking tape over the cutting line before you cut - that should give the wood the support it needs.

Step 4: Glue the Flat Parts

Picture of Glue the Flat Parts

Glue all of the pieces together as shown. Make sure the layered pieces have grain going in opposite directions - this is for strength and to prevent warping later.

After applying the glue be sure to clamp pieces together or place them under a heavy weight like a stack of books.

Step 5: Soften the Fold Lines

Picture of Soften the Fold Lines

After the flat parts have dried thoroughly apply water to anywhere that needs to fold. Don't soak the entire piece, that just invites the glue to stop sticking and everything to start warping. Brush water over it once, leave it for a bit, brush water over it again.

Gently start bending the wood into the shape it needs to be. Bending it too aggressively can break it. Take your time.

Step 6: Finish It!

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Fold the pan into shape. Apply glue to one of the flaps, clamp it into place. As it sets, glue on on the other end. Work your way around until all four flaps are glued down. Leave the whole thing to dry.

If areas warped or pulled loose from their original gluing you can fix it. After the entire dish dries completely, touch a bit of water onto whatever isn't right, then clamp it into the right shape. Let that dry to set, and repeat for any other bad spots.

Step 7: Bake Something Delicious

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Line the dish with some parchment paper, add some dough or batter and bake or microwave it. Drier foods are better, as wet food can soften the shape up a bit.

If you need to clean your dishes use the smallest amount of water possible and avoid soap. Wood is kind of spongy and you probably don't want your food to taste like your dishwashing soap.

Comments

SlickSqueegie (author)2012-01-10

very very cool idea! you could further protect this little gem from water by applying a food safe finish. Here is a finish I made and it seems to last a good long time before you re-apply.

Oh wait! this is going in the oven isnt it? then it wont be a good solution. I do know "Tung oil" is food safe AFTER curing and is very heat resilient.

narf7 (author)SlickSqueegie2012-01-22

Err...isn't Tung oil extremely flammable? I was under the impression that it could even spontaneously combust (a bit like linseed). I learned this when I was finding the appropriate finish for our bare wooden floor.

technoplastique (author)narf72012-01-22

If you wanted an oil finish I would just go with olive, walnut, something like that. I'm sure those are safe for the oven!

narf7 (author)technoplastique2012-01-22

I agree. I was just pointing out that the tung oil is most probably going to set your well crafted pots alight :o) I would use olive oil. Thanks, by the way, for a fantastic instructable. I am going to be checking out your blog, your instructables and the how do you make it blog as well. :o)

SlickSqueegie (author)narf72012-01-23

It will not "set your crafted pots alight" it is the most resistant to heat AFTER CURING.

SlickSqueegie (author)narf72012-01-23

not after it cures...

ironsmiter (author)2011-10-17

Thanks for sharing the idea!
No off to www.x-tremegeek.com with you, and start selling your bento-box bake-ware.

I worry a little bit about the glue holding up to bread baking temperatures...

How long and how hot have you tested?

For microwaving, this sounds perfect.
For the oven, I'd be tempted to do decorative fastening with these
http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/613827/Office-Depot-Brand-Round-Head-Fasteners/

I see all sorts of origami shapes potentially for baked goods.

It seems that moisture has much more to do with how it holds up than heat. When the wood is dry it doesn't try to re-shape itself, so there's no stress on the glue. I've microwaved it with fairly moist dough in it for 9 minutes and baked it at 400 for half an hour with no visible effects. The glue didn't release any odors, either. Before I made a dozen for holiday gifts I would test it out on one with my intended recipe, but I was honestly really surprised at how well it held up! I'm dying to design some more shapes and sizes, too.

yes you are right.. It seems that moisture has much more to do with how it holds up than heat. Very Nice information very useful.

http://www.teakfurnituredecor.com/

debdegraeve (author)2011-10-18

Beautiful, elegant shaped container. Could be made from other materials for other uses.

rhondacameron124 (author)2011-10-18

Very very good idea.. you are so creative person.. Good job. thank you for sharing this topic to us..

http://www.deep-spiritual-awakening.com/selfgrowth/

rimar2000 (author)2011-10-18

Very good idea!

Thanks!

jessyratfink (author)2011-10-18

This is so awesome!

Thank you!

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2011-10-17

I agree, I like that much better than cupcake liners!

Thanks!

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